Losing is a disease... as contagious as polio.
Losing is a disease... as contagious as syphilis.
Losing is a disease... as contagious as bubonic plague.
Attacking one... but infecting all.
Pessimistic-yet unfortunately applicable-words from my all-time favorite sports movie, The Natural.
While I'm not yet ready to say that Texas has contracted the losing disease, the symptoms are there. The saddest part is we're not this bad. Not even close. As encouraging as the win over Nebraska was, Saturday was a yet another gross misuse of talent, both by the coaches and the players.
Losing to an Iowa State team that got obliterated 52-0 by the Land Thieves... unbelievable. And completely unacceptable.
The offense is embarrassingly flat and predictable. Any explosiveness only comes when we're more than three touchdowns behind. If it's third-and-seven, we run a five yard route. Our receivers continue to catch (or drop) passes standing like statues. There's no rhythm with the vertical passing game. There's no urgency. It's like everyone is waiting for someone else to make a play. Just look at some of Mack Brown comments after the game:
"This is as disappointed as I've been in our offense."
"This team is '07 all over again. You don't ever know who's going to show up. It scares you to death."
When your offense scares you more than it does the other team, something's really wrong. And the defense? Yeah, let's not let the mighty Cyclones bust it right up the gut on you.
Uhhh, there's so much more to say about this thing. Let's get into detailing the progression/regression of our four key issues. But before the jump, here are few nuggets to chew on (warning: these might make you vomit)...
Nugget #1: Colt McCoy won on Sunday.
Nugget #2: Jordan Shipley had 131 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons.
Nugget #3: Baylor is ranked. Baylor.
Garrett Gilbert's Progress
First of all, for all you who are calling for Garrett Gilbert's head and ready for the Case McCoy/Conner Woods era, I completely understand your angst, but you are out of your Bevo-lovin' mind.
Yes, Gilbert was bad Saturday, but giving McCoy a shot will only make things worse. Gilbert has shown some progress this year, but not nearly what we wanted to see. He gets almost no help from the running game and the receivers are inconsistent at best. The play calling is filled with give-up short routes that don't threaten the defense. Unless, of course, we're down by two or more touchdowns. Then, all of the sudden, there is some urgency.
Gilbert threw the ball 57 times. Ridiculous. One of his three interceptions was not his fault, but he could have had four more picks but the Iowa State defenders generously dropped the ball. He forced way too many passes, and his touch still needs some work. He under-threw a wheel route to Tre' Newton for an INT in the end zone.
Gilbert looked pretty good again running. He did a good job scrambling and finding Newton for a first down in the third quarter. He's building confidence, but as a long way to go developing his decision making and consistency with his placement. Overall, it was a significant step back in progress.
Retooling the Running Game
Is D.J. Monroe still a student at the University of Texas at Austin? Oh, yeah, he had those kick returns and one stretch play around the right side for a first down. Forgot.
And why doesn't he get more touches? Oh, yeah, we're always playing from behind scrambling for our lives and Monroe can't block. Right. Forgot.
Mack's comments on the gross misuse of Monroe: "We have to do a better job of getting him the ball."
Texas managed 96 yards on the ground against one of the worst rushing defenses in the country. But when you have to throw the ball 57 times just to get back in the game, you're not going to run the ball much anyway.
Tre' Newton looked decent, but he continues to fall flat on his face when touched. He must have a button that tacklers can push that make him collapse.
Result = more big steps back for the running game. I just hope Malcolm Brown still honors his verbal commit after seeing this.
BROC (Big Receiver on Campus)
Welcome to the Texas Longhorns, DeSean Hales. Nice to at least see a new face out there. He had three catches for 27 yards. John Chiles stepped up and got open DOWN THE FIELD for 117 yards and one touchdown that barely kept Texas in the game.
Mike Davis led all receivers with eight short catches for 50 yards, plus one ball that went right off his hands and into the hands of a Cyclone. Malcolm Williams was inconsistent as usual, making just two catches, but one was a great grab in the end zone. Too little, too late.
It's the seventh game of the season and no one has stepped up to be a lead receiver. And it doesn't look like anyone will assume that roll.
The D-Line Shuffle
I really feel sorry for guys like Sam Acho and Eddie Jones, who have played their hearts out in their senior season. It has to be a big disappointment for them. Both players had a sack, and Acho tallied eight tackles.
Jackson Jeffcoat didn't play but should be back against mighty Baylor. Alex Okafor got a lot of playing time at tackle, but recorded just one take-down.
Coming off the best performance of the season against Nebraska, this group looked pretty bad, letting Iowa State run right up the middle on them. This was the same Iowa State team that had just 59 rushing yards against Oklahoma. So, no progress with the D-line. Baylor won't be an easy test either.